November 30, 2007

Vanderbilt mourns loss of Wilson

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James P. Wilson, M.D.

Vanderbilt mourns loss of Wilson

James P. Wilson, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and former director of the Adult Primary Care Center, died Monday after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

“I consider him a close and dear friend who loved medicine and the patients we cared for together,” said Anderson Spickard Jr., M.D., professor of Medicine and chair, Faculty and Physician Wellness Committee. “We will miss his leadership, good humor and dedication to being the best one can be.”

Dr. Wilson brought the Wilson Medical Group and its large patient base to Vanderbilt in 1990, which jumpstarted a revolution in primary care here. He served as the associate chief medical officer for Primary Care in Adult Medicine and associate director for clinical practice in the division of General Internal Medicine from 1995-2000.

“Jim was first and foremost an outstanding physician,” said John Sergent M.D., professor of Medicine. “He made many contributions through his leadership in primary care, but I will remember him for the enthusiasm and joy that he brought to the practice of medicine. He loved his patients, and they loved him.”

Dr. Wilson earned his B.S. degree from Michigan State in 1962 and his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1966. He served his internship and residency in internal medicine at Vanderbilt as well as a fellowship in clinical pharmacology.

“Dr. Wilson was the most energetic and tireless teacher we had in medicine, and totally engaging to the younger set,” said John Dixon, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, who was an intern under Wilson. “He was an accomplished equestrian, and we spent several days riding and laughing our way through rough terrain. That was when I learned how he absolutely had the gift of the love of life itself.”

In 1995, Dr. Wilson noted that the expansion of need for primary care came about because of the increase in managed care contracts, which often require that a primary care physician act as a “gatekeeper” for other medical services. He encouraged primary care physicians to be more than gatekeepers by serving as “integrators and coordinators of the managed care of our patients.”

“Jim felt that continued emphasis on excellence in patient care and patient advocacy was of primary importance rather than the financial bottom line,” said Rich Hock, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, who took over Wilson's practice. “The foundation of my practice in medicine is related to his vision and compassion.”

Dr. Wilson was a member of the VUH/TVC Design Team from 1993-1994 which examined what worked well and what needed improvement at the two facilities. Implementation of the team's recommendations began in 1995.

“Jim was a terrific guy who made contributions in many areas,” said Wright Pinson, M.D., chief medical officer and associate vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs. “Among them, he was key in the early years of the Vanderbilt Medical Group's development. He served on and led many committees that influenced the culture of our practice for the better. He was a successful proponent of higher standards of care and service for our patients.”

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Pat Coleman Wilson; daughter, Loretta Katherine Wilson; son, James Wilson and his wife, Kim Ficaro; brother, William Wilson and his wife, Ruth; and sisters Dorothy Sargent and Marilyn Stewart and her husband, Ken.